Thursday, May 31, 2012

Land Of Waterfalls

Over my five day weekend, the family and I wanted an all day cycling adventure. We felt like the best way to do that was to head to the Dupont State Forest in Western North Carolina. With miles of fun singletrack, mountain views, and even waterfalls, it was the right decision.

The trail starts out with a little climbing, end you end up at a creek crossing (the photo above.) The current is too fast and the bottom is too slippery to ride across (although I’ve seen it done once), so we walked our bikes through it. The cold water felt good on our feet since it was a pretty warm day.

Lunchbox was happy to be on the other side and not down the creek without a paddle.

We rode some more singletrack, and I noticed that things have changed a bit since I was there last. Someone has been putting in a ton of work out there, and the conditions were much improved. The trail has been made more sustainable, which hopefully will keep people coming back for more. After riding for a while, we came up to the first of many waterfalls on our journey.

Lunchbox loves coming out here, because you can’t see stuff like this here locally.

Little Miss Sunshine did her best “wilderness pose”, enjoying every minute of our day.

She even made the kid and I get into this cave thingy:

Next up, we did a little gravel road climbing. The goal was to get to a trail called Airstrip, which does, in fact, lead to an airstrip on the top of the mountain. Instead of climbing up the gravel road and bombing down the singletrack though, we decided to climb up the trail. It wasn’t bad, since it had also been reworked.

We made it to the top, and the reward was a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Lunchbox uses views like this to remind himself why we ride bikes in the mountains.

After making it to the top and taking in the views, we turned right back around and rode the now downhill Airstrip trail. It was fast, full of jumps, and basically a shitload of fun. I hauled ass to the bottom with just enough time to watch the little lady hit the final turn.

After that, the plan was to see some more waterfalls. We headed over to High Falls, which only took a few minutes on a gravel road. We reached the top and took a peek over the edge.

Then we took a ride to the bottom, where the view was much better.

In all, it was a great day for riding. No one crashed, and we all had a really fun time. We even bumped into many folks from our neck of the woods while we were out there. It’s a small world (in the cycling community anyway.)

When it was time to go, we decided to hit up a local place that I’ve never been, but Little Miss Sunshine has.

The Hub, which is a bike shop/tavern (the best combination), is a local mecca for weary mountain bikers in the area. They have a nice shop, and quite a few beers on tap (and in cans and bottles.) As a bonus, there was a bike demo going on there.

Notice that Lunchbox is always pimping Bike29. He’s such a good kid.

Anyway, Mike from Niner happened to be there, and we hung out with him and his family for a little while. We even helped tear down (a little bit anyway), and joined him and some locals for a beer or two. When we closed down the place, we headed over to a well-known Mexican restaurant up the road to get our grub on.

I think this was the best day ever.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Burning Up The Weekend

Moving backwards on my five day weekend, now I’ll talk about what I did on Sunday.  After spending lots of family time on bikes, I decided to head up to Dark Mountain to cheer on (and heckle) the folks that were racing the Burn24.

My first stop in Tent City was to pay a visit to the Dirt Divas team, and drop off some ice on a hot day.  I didn’t let the heat get to me though.

I tried my best to be cool.

Photo cred:  Doc

They were waiting for a teammate to come in from a lap, then the plan was to ride one more.  Instead of letting one go out alone on her last lap, three of them did it together:

While they were out on the course, I made my rounds to talk to pretty much everyone I could find out there, and it was cool to hear the stories from their individual races.  When it came time for the ladies to get out of the woods, I made my way to the trail exit to get a few photos.

It was really fun to hang out at a race that I didn’t race, and I enjoyed talking to everyone out there.  I even ran into D-Wayne, who promptly offered me a beer.  I politely declined and he wondered what the hell was wrong with me.

Well, I didn’t go up there just to spectate.  I wanted to get in a ride of my own, so I took my single speed to the nearby Overmountain Victory Trail for a little alone time.

It was my first time there on the SS, and I loved it.  Other than a few hikers, I pretty much had the trail to myself.  It was just what I needed for sure.

Big thanks to the Dirt Divas for letting me hang out with them.  They rocked it out there.

I’ll keep working my way through last weekend’s adventures (backwards of course.) 

See y’all tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Everywhere But Here

Did you miss me?  I did.  I mean, I missed being able to write down my thoughts and nonsense for the whole Internets to see.  I was busy as shit for the last five days, and I got in lots of miles in my truck to get lots of miles on my bike.

What did I do?

Well, I guess I could work back from yesterday.

Since I had been riding quite a bit after I took some time off work, the family and I decided to spend yesterday at the zoo (without bikes.)

Okay, it’s not exactly bicycle-related.  Sorry.  After all the riding I did over the last few days, we needed to take a small break.

I really like animals, and I understand that zoos are a kind of “necessary evil.”  Most people would never get to see the animals that they keep in zoos, so hopefully the public can educate themselves a little.  That’s not true though, since the “public” is pretty stupid.  They had to be constantly reminded that calling chimpanzees and gorillas “monkeys” is not correct, and that nocturnal animals in their darkened habitats don’t care for your camera flash.

Oh yeah, don’t knock on the glass, because they don’t like that shit.

I love animals, I just hate people for the most part.

Anyway, in spite of the idiots trying to ruin everything, we had a good time.  We got to see plenty of animals, and it was a nice break from the bikes.  I can actually see myself volunteering at a zoo when I retire, spending my time educating people who probably have no idea that wild animals exist anywhere outside of zoos and television. 

Okay, maybe I’m still a little wound up from being out in the public.  I think I’ll cut it off here.

I spent time with people the rest of my vacation days, but at least most of them were on bikes.  That makes it way better.  I have photos and video to go through, so hopefully tomorrow I can actually talk about bike stuff.

At least I’m not talking about the fake ass dinosaurs that I saw yesterday.

I rode my bike…a lot.  I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beer Does Help

My back is a little better, and I can attribute that to a heavy dose of stretching and a shitload of beer.  I guess back pain is pretty common amongst cyclists, judging from the comments/advice I received yesterday.  I don’t think this is an ongoing issue though.  I don’t usually suffer from any long-lasting ailments, and my latest round of pain isn’t some old injury rearing its ugly head.

Well, I did have some back pain way back in my twenties, but I found out it was due to tight hamstrings from playing soccer and skateboarding all the time.  I eventually learned preventative stretching movements, but every once in a while I forget to do it.  Most recently, I’d been riding my bike more than usual, and not stretching at all. 

I’m such a dumbass.

I’m tired of waiting to be fully healed though.  Since I’m feeling much better than I’ve felt over the last two weeks, I think it’s time to get back on the bike again.  I know, that wasn’t much of a break, but I can’t stay away. 

I really don’t care anymore.

I took some time off of work for the next few days, and time away from work for me always equals time on my bike.  Starting tomorrow, I’m going to take a blog hiatus until next Tuesday.  It’s not a real vacation, but I plan to cram as much shit as possible into my five day break.

Tomorrow, the little lady and I are heading up to Warrior Creek, so she can finally ride the trails up there that she’s heard so much about.  I’m taking my single speed, so it will be like a new trail to me too.  My goal has been to take the SS to every trail I’ve ridden with gears, and all I have left now is the out of town stuff.  Should be loads of fun.

Friday, I may do a short ride on my “private” trail.  The big event of the day for me though is a massage, which I most certainly deserve. 

I just hope it’s not all weird and shit.

YouTube won’t let me embed the video I wanted to show you, so click here:

Thanks to Todd T. for the idea.

Anyway, after I feel all relaxed (and hopefully pain free), I’ll still have three days to fill.  One of those days, we plan to head over to DuPont State Forest in Western NC for a little waterfall chasing.  We haven’t been there in a while, so it will be nice to ride on some different trails and see some really cool waterfalls and junk.  I know the whole family is looking forward to it.

As far as my plans go for the next few days, that’s pretty much it.  I’m sure that there will be plenty of other riding adventures, but nothing is set in stone.

All I want to do is ride my bike.

You should too.

See y’all Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Now I’ll Take It Easy

My cat knows how to take it easy.  He does it all the time.

While I didn’t mention anything at all about my recent bout with low back pain on yesterday's post, I can assure you that it is still there.  I didn’t have any issues during the race, but as soon as I finished I began to feel it again.  In fact, it got much worse throughout the day.  A smidgeon over two weeks of dealing with this shit, and I’m nowhere near 100%.

Luckily, I don’t race again for almost three weeks, so hopefully that will be enough time to recover completely.  It will be difficult for me to stay off the bike, but I really should.  I have a few good rides planned in the very near future, but over the next few days my plan is simple.


Drink beer.

Rest more.

Drink more beer.

Sounds like a training plan for winners, eh?

I really have no choice.  I can’t risk this back nonsense turning into something really serious (maybe it already has), so I have to spend less time on the bike and walking around, and more time getting myself back to normal.  Maybe I should get a massage.

No, I will get a massage.  Hopefully that will help.

In other news, my nutritional needs have been taken care of again.  The folks at Honey Stinger sent me some more goodies to keep me going.

Since this stuff is used for my “on the bike” nutritional needs, it looks like I probably won’t touch it until I get back to racing next month.  I guess I’ll have to eat “normal” food until then.

Wait, I’m not taking three weeks off the bike. 

Hell no.

That would be much worse than having back pain.

In fact, I have quite a few bike rides planned for the next few days.  I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Small Improvement

Sunday’s 2012 Catawba Riverfront Classic wasn’t so bad, even though my back still wasn’t right and I was nervous as hell.  Well, I wasn’t really nervous I guess.  I felt like I was under a lot of pressure to do well on the only “home trail” in this series, especially since I knew it oh so well. 

I’ve been riding my single speed out there quite a bit, and this would be the first time in a long time with gears.  I had no idea what to expect, especially when one of my “competitors” asked me about my stragety.

“Are you gonna take it easy or go out as fast as you can?”

I told him I would probably stick with my usual race tactics, which is go out full on and tire myself out about a mile in, spending the rest of the race recovering.  I was serious, I guess.

When we finally took off, I pedaled my ass of to get up front.  I entered the the trail in third place, and kept pushing.  I was going so fast in the beginning that Lunchbox had a hard time getting a clear shot of me with the camera.

I stayed with the leaders, and surprisingly I wasn’t getting tired at all.  I watched as the two guys in front of me played it safe on the technical stuff on the first section.  I felt right at home on it, which was probably because of my home trail advantage.  Fourth place was right behind me though, and I made a crucial mistake on my choice of line and got passed.  I stayed right with him though, and I knew for sure I could keep that pace for the rest of the race.

We finished the first section, and I started speeding up a bit.  Not being used to gears, I was riding my bike like it was a single speed.  I mashed up the climbs in a much harder gear than I had to.

Slowly, the three guys in front of me started pulling away while I took a minute to recover from the climbs.  I still had them in my sights though, and I knew that if I turned it on I could get back in the mix.  The good news was no one behind me in my class posed an immediate threat.

I eventually recovered, and settled into a comfortable pace.  Every time I went through a section of switchbacks, I kept catching glimpses of the guys up front.  I sped up a little, careful not to burn myself out.  About halfway through, I saw that I had about a three minute gap to make up.  We had gone through most of the really difficult stuff though, so I knew I would have to really work it to catch back up.  I was still feeling pretty good at least.

I got near the end, and I shifted into the biggest gear I had and mashed away.  I crossed the finish line as fast as I could, and figured I was in fourth place still.  I guess I was okay with that, until some people started telling me otherwise.

“You got third!  Congrats!”

Wait, what?  I knew I never passed anyone again, so the only way I would’ve been in third was if someone DNF’d.  I checked the results, and saw that I was indeed listed in third place.

I still didn’t believe it, so I asked the guy that I thought was in front of me.  He said he finished in third, and that there must have been some kind of mix up.  We both talked to the promoter, and the results were corrected.  I didn’t want to get on the podium due to a mistake, so I was happy. 

However, someone else did get on the podium out there.

Yep, Little Miss Sunshine put the hammer down and got herself a second place finish.  I’m really proud of her.

I learned something out there, and it had nothing to do with racing.  I brought a stash of hoppy beverages, and a shitty bottle opener nearly thwarted my plan to drink it.  I ended up having to improvise, and I learned that Crank Brothers pedals make a pretty good beer opening device.

It was a long day, but a fun one.  I got there early, raced, and volunteered my time the rest of the day.  Little Miss Sunshine and I provided first aid support for the event, and I ended up having to extract one of the riders from the middle of the trail after he crashed pretty hard.  He will live though.  After the race, it was time to tear everything down.

We got the hell outta there and headed to our favorite watering hole so I could keep building my beer list.

If I took my beer drinking as seriously as my bike racing, I would always get on the podium.

Friday, May 18, 2012

“Back” To Racing

That’s not me, but that’s what I’m going through right now.  As you may remember, almost two weeks ago I hurt my back at the beginning of a race.  Things haven’t gotten any better.  In fact, at one point during this week I was much, much worse.

I’ve been stretching, applying heat/ice, and generally trying to take it easy, but to no avail.  I’ve even cut back on the riding a bit too.  It’s not even halfway through the season and I’m all tore up like a trailer park after a tornado. 

Damn it.

This weekend though, it’s time for me to get back to racing.  Even though I’m not really in any kind of condition to race, I can’t really miss this one.  I mean, it’s pretty much in my backyard.

Up next is the 2012 Catawba Riverfront Classic here in Charlotte, and I pretty much have to go.  It’s a huge fundraiser for our local club, the Tarheel Trailblazers.  Also, this is the race I won back in 2009.  I haven’t even been on the podium there since, and with my current bout with back pain I’m not sure if I will this year either.

I got a really sweet trophy that year at least.

It’s a pretty fun race, and probably the best course in the whole Southern Classic Series.  The mileage is much less than the other races in the series, so if I can stand the pain I plan to hammer all the way from start to finish.  I’ve ridden there quite a bit over the last few months on my single speed, so a ride there with my geared bike should be a lot of fun if I survive.

I'm working on getting my back right though.  Drinking beer to keep the pain away doesn't help when I’m at work, and I can’t ride “race speed” when I drink on the bike.

I really should start taking better care of myself.

It sucks getting old.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hey Ladies

That’s right, the ladies let me ride with them again.  As in, the lovely ladies form our local women’s mountain bike club, the Dirt Divas.  They do regular Tuesday night rides here in Charlotte, but this past Tuesday was a little different.  They hold their monthly meeting then, and they do a little “urban assault” ride beforehand.  I was lucky enough to be invited.

We started out on the road, but cut through parks, parking lots, and across sidewalks to make things interesting. 

After riding on the greenway, we ended up at a local park.  We cut though there on some, uh, trails.

At one point we had to speed up to 88 miles per hour, since the Libyans were after us.

There was some mix up about me giving them a shoddy bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts or something like that.

We eventually made our way through the city, and a few of the ladies posed in front of the infamous Disco Chicken.

It was a really fun ride, even though it wasn’t technically mountain biking.  Little Miss Sunshine did a great job of leading us around the city.

As for the “test bike”, I kinda dig it.  Even though the way it was setup wasn’t perfect, I still think the frame might work for me (with my own parts, of course.)  I took it back last night, but I may try to get it again and take it for another trail ride.

I need more time to decide.

It’s like I have a deadline or something.

I don’t though.

Or do I?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Found Anything Yet?

We ain’t found shit.

A couple of weeks ago, I misplaced my Tülbag.  Not such a big deal since I still have a few, but this was the one I used for races and longer rides.  That means it was full of race-day shit, like my multi tool, tire boots, zip ties, master link, and a spare C02.  I searched far and wide, and came up empty.  The only thing I could figure is that I left it on my bumper or something like that and drove off.

Damn it.

Luckily, with extra Tülbags in my possession, I was able to buy all the stuff to make a replacement “race ready” Tülbag.

My spare quick link didn’t make it into that photo, but I do have several…just in case.

And of course, a Tülbag in my favorite color.

And it was easy to stuff all that shit inside there too:

So now, I’m ready to race again.  I figured that since I made up another Tülbag I would find the old one. 

No such luck.

I don’t have one of the new Fonbags yet, and that’s probably a good thing.  I would most likely lose my fancy smartphone, and that would be mighty expensive to replace.  However, carrying my phone in my pocket on rides could result in breakage, so maybe I should get one.

Lose it or break it…it’s a tough decision.

I’m so confused.

Things just don’t make sense anymore.

By the way, I got a chance to ride the “test bike” yesterday, but I don’t have time to go through the photos right now.

Maybe tomorrow.